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Your friend is correct. As the Lease is for over 7 years, it needs to be registered at the Land Registry, and any Assignee's Solicitor will demand that this be done before proceeding.
I therefore suggest that you contact the Solicitor who you intend to instruct once a new Tenant is found, to register the Lease at the Land Registry. There will be a Land Registration fee to pay- there will be no penalty. However, if you should have paid Stamp Duty on the Lease at the time and this was not paid, then there will be apenalty in this regard.
I hope this assists and sets out the legal position.
I can't tell you of hand how much the Stamp Duty will be in total as there will be interest to pay plus fixed penalty which is likely to be £100.. You can however calculate how much the original amount should have been by using the HMRC website-
www.hmrc.gov.uk › Stamp Duty
You certainly should be entitled to claim back the additional costs via the SRA, so please keep a note of what you end up paying.
I hope this helps.
What is the process for claiming from the SRA? How long do you think this will take? Is it realistic to expect them to cover this?
Here is the link to the SRA page- sorry if you will need to copy and paste it.
Once you have the full cost of the interest/fixed penalty, you will then need to complete their application form for a claim under their Compensation fund. I can't be definite, but in my experience, it would normally take them 2-3 months to deal with the claim.